The Korean Peninsula offers exclusive experiences, beautiful landscapes and 5,000 years of culture and history. Serene mountain valleys bump against the pulsing lights and rush of 24-hour cities. Confucian tradition collides with the ultra-modern fashion and design. The variety and quality of Korean cuisine offers a wealth of delights to foodies and food novices alike.
South Korea is a dream destination – an engaging, welcoming place where the benefits of a high-tech nation are balanced alongside a reverence for tradition and the ways of old Asia.
While cities like Seoul and Busan are strikingly modern, parts of the countryside seem wild, untouched by the past century’s technologies and innovations. It’s also a country whose hidden corners and valleys are as accessible to luxury travelers as they are to backpackers. Exploring Korea is asking for openness to the new and unexpected, a willingness to rely on the kindness of others, and last, but not the least, a high appetite for adventure.
With 20 national parks scattered across the country you’re seldom far from splendid natural attractions including ragged mountain peaks graced with streams, waterfalls and a brilliant range of foliage. Serene traditional gardens in palaces and temples and the rippling fields of tea plantations show what can be achieved when man works with nature. South Korea has nine cultural properties and one natural property (the dormant volcanos and lava-tube caves of Jeju-do) inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list. Impressive temples and palace buildings stand along side charming villages of hanok (traditional homes). Contemporary Korea architecture is also ambitious and frequently dazzling: witness the Busan Cinema Centre and Seoul’s otherworldly Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park.
Korea might be known as the Land of the Morning Calm, but you have to stop by its capital Seoul, the powerhouse of Asia’s third-largest economy. This round-the-clock city is constantly on the move, with its work-hard, play-hard population the epitome of the nation’s indefatigable, can-do spirit. Everywhere your turn there is a tourist information booth, a subway station or a taxi.
White-sand city beaches and hot-spring resorts may not be everyone’s first image of Korea, but these are what Koreans flock to Busan for all year. Busan is also home to world-class natural hot-spring facilities, while there are plenty of opportunities for rest, relaxation, retail therapy, and even a touch of glamour every October with the Busan International Film Festival.
Time moves at a much slower clip here on Jeju-do, also named as the Hawaii of Asia. Blessed with tangerine groves, swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, and a verdant landscape, Korea’s southernmost volcanic island has long been a favored holiday and honeymoon retreat for natives and neighbors. Still relatively unknown to Western travelers, Jeju’s recent title as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature is bound to bring Jeju upon quite a few radars.
It is no doubt that the tourist industry in Jeju is a major player. With an an nual number of tourists reaching nearly nine million visitors and generating over 500 billion won in revenue, tourism plays a huge factor in Jeju’s economy. About a forty-five minute plane ride from Seoul, it is a hot spot for tourists from mainla nd Korea but also for people from neighboring Asian countries, specifically Chine se vacationers, who flock to the city in droves. While personal leisure is a great sel ling point, Jeju attracts a number of international business meetings as well. In 2012, it was the host of the World Conservation Congress.